On the first Saturday of every month, Mark will write about a topic of interest to Packers fans and the organization, and then answer five fan questions. Fans are encouraged to email Mark with their name and hometown at: MurphyTakes5@packers.com.
Nineteen years ago, the Packers decided to establish a Hall of Fame to recognize individual fans of the team. We were the first team to have a FAN Hall of Fame, and remain the only team to have such a Hall. Bob Harlan and the organization decided to establish the award to recognize the tremendous support that we receive from our fans across the state and country. We induct one fan each year, and a location in our Hall of Fame has the name of each fan that has been inducted on it. Our first winner, Mel Knoke, 91 years old at the time of his induction, was featured in the NFL’s “Feel the Power” commercials.
To me, the FAN Hall of Fame really highlights the unique nature of the Packers organization. Due to our organizational structure (community owned with 360,000 shareholders), our fans have a much stronger bond to the team than fans of other teams.
On Valentine’s Day, we inducted our 19th member into the FAN Hall of Fame. It was my 10th induction and it was, by far, the most memorable. The media auditorium was packed, and the atmosphere in the room was electric. The friends and family of one of the finalists, Frank Lamping, had rented a bus, and it seemed that most of the residents of Frank’s home town of Union Grove, Wis., were in attendance. When Frank was announced as this year’s winner, the auditorium erupted and the crowd soon started chanting “Go Frank Go.” Frank was a very deserving and inspiring winner. He has been battling cancer for three years, and even postponed cancer surgery so that he would not miss a Packers game. (I told Frank that, while I appreciated his loyalty to the Packers, it is usually not a good idea to postpone cancer surgery.) It was great to see the outpouring of support for such a humble and caring person.
Now, on to your questions….
Bill from Howard
The Super Bowl was one of the best games I’ve ever watched, but it isn’t fair that the Falcons didn’t get a possession after the Patriots scored in overtime. Do you think the league will change this rule?
I heard the same question, Bill, from fans after our overtime losses in the playoffs in 2014 and 2015. I do not think there will be a push to change this rule. The rule was changed a few years ago so that a team could not win the game with a field goal on the first possession. Although it may not be completely fair, all the Falcons had to do was stop the Patriots or at least hold them to a field goal, and they would have had a possession and a chance to win or tie the game. Also, some have suggested that the league move to an overtime format similar to that used in college football. I don’t think there would be support for the college system because it is viewed as gimmicky (and not real football) and doesn’t involve kickoffs or punts.
Jim from Antigo, WI
Do you think there is such a thing as a Super Bowl hangover?
I do think there is something to this this theory, Jim. A team hasn’t won back-to-back Super Bowls since the Patriots in 2004 and 2005. Also, neither of the participants in Super Bowl 50 even made the playoffs this year. Much of the focus over the years has been on the poor performance in the following year of Super Bowl losers. As I left the stadium in Houston, I couldn’t help but think about what a tough loss it was for the Falcons and how challenging it will be for them to bounce back from a loss like that. The reality in the NFL, though, is that each year stands on its own, and that there is tremendous parity in the league.
John from Richmond, WI
Do you think the Raiders will move to Las Vegas?
Thanks, John. This is one of the biggest questions facing the league this offseason. In January the Raiders filed a petition to relocate to Las Vegas. The league office is conducting an analysis of both the Las Vegas and Oakland markets, and the owners will vote on the relocation in March. Over the past two months, two sources of funding for the stadium project, Sandy Alderson from the Sands Casino and Goldman Sachs, both withdrew their support for the project. It’s not clear at this point whether this impacts the validity of the project. The current stadium in Oakland is below NFL standards, and it does not seem likely they will be able to build a new stadium in Oakland. Ultimately, I think the question will come down to whether Las Vegas is a strong enough market economically to be able to support an NFL team over the long term. Another issue is that it will take two years to build a new stadium in Las Vegas, and there is not a viable stadium in Las Vegas to play in on a temporary basis, so the Raiders would have to play two seasons in Oakland knowing they were moving to Las Vegas.
Ed from Albany, NY
Congratulations on a great season. One of my pet peeves concerns the bye week schedule. In a 16-game season, the bye week is critical. The Packers, Cowboys, Chiefs and Seahawks all had first-half bye weeks. We know how that turned out. It’s totally different if a team like the Packers with a fourth week bye plays a team with a late second-half bye at the end of the year. It’s all for TV, I know. But what if all teams had an eighth week bye? Wouldn’t fairness trump TV money?
Ed, this is a great question, and legitimate pet peeve. Putting together the NFL schedule is a very complex process, and will certainly not be viewed as fair to every team. You’re right in that the TV networks play a key role in scheduling. The league wants to make sure there are attractive matchups every week for the networks. The networks would not be supportive of all teams having a bye in the eighth week, as this would be a week with no games. What the league tries to do, though, is be fair to teams over the long term. For instance, if a team has an early bye one year, they will get a late bye the next year. Finally, I have noticed that the good coaches are able to take the schedules they are given and make the best of them.
Tom from Saint Louis, MO
With Jerry Jones’ election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, I am prompted to ask your opinion on whether the Packers can literally “keep up with the Joneses.” Jerry Jones has his billion-dollar stadium and was a staunch supporter of a fellow billionaire cashing in on relocation riches. Can the Titletown District help keep pace?
Excellent question, Tom. I know that for years Packers fans have worried that the lack of a deep-pocketed billionaire owner puts us at a competitive disadvantage. Fortunately, with the current player compensation system that is in our collective bargaining agreement with a hard salary cap, players receiving a percentage of the revenue – and revenue sharing among teams – makes it almost impossible for teams to buy championships. They have to make good football decisions to win championships. We cannot count on the current system always being in place, and for that reason we have built up our corporate reserve fund over the years, in case we ever believe we need additional funds to be competitive. The main motivation behind the Titletown development is to ensure the team stays in Green Bay. Historically, the Packers have had two main goals – to win championships and ensure that the team stays in Green Bay. We’re hopeful that Titletown will strengthen the economic base in Green Bay enough so that the area will be able to continue to support a competitive NFL team well into the future. We also view Titletown as a way to invest in the local community (especially with the public aspects of the development), and it helps us by diversifying our revenue beyond football-related revenue.